Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thoughts on Landscape

The landscape thumbnails we have been doing in class have brought up a lot of discussion points. Several of you asked if I could make a list of them to refer to. Landscape is a large topic and these points are only a jumping off place. Refer to my blog post on "Reference Books for Landscape" to learn more. John Carlson is indispensable.  

Questions that need answers:

·       What is the direction and angle of the light?
·       Is there a foreground, mid-ground and background?
·       Where is your focal point?
·       What is the story?  There can be only one.


·       Always design inside a design space (the four edges of your thumbnail or canvas).
·       Always design to a ratio. A different ratio means a different design.
·       Seek balance, but not symmetry.
·       Use the steelyard balance. Think of your shapes as if they were on a teeter-totter. The greater the weight of the shape, the more compensatory actions will be needed to balance it.
·       Think of everything in terms of dominance – dominant, subordinate, sub-subordinate. This applies to everything (value, color, texture, temperature, chroma, shapes)
·       Avoid half and half in anything.

Distribution of values:

·       When designing in B&W, initially think in terms of light, medium and dark value shapes. Do not divide them equally. Think dominant, subordinate, sub-subordinate.  This is referred to as Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear or Gallon, Quart, Pint.

Carlson’s Angles of the Landscape:

·       I refer to them as planes rather than angles, but in terms of light theory or how the sun relates to the landscape determine which planes are directly facing the sun (light); which planes are in the process of turning away from the sun (halftone or medium); and which planes are turned away from the sun (dark).

·       In landscape the three types of planes correspond to vertical planes (trees, sides of buildings), inclined planes (hills, angled rooftops) and horizontal (the ground, the flat top of a rock). Carlson called these the angles of the landscape.  The fourth angle is the vault of the sky, which is a secondary light source.

·       Before you paint, know which angle/plane of the landscape corresponds to which value.

·       Remember that while you must have three values for the three planes, those three values can be close together or far apart. The closer two values are, the more the eye will link them. The sky can create a fourth value or link with one of the other three values.

Randall Sexton

I first saw the art of Randall Sexton at the LPAPA Laguna plein air event. He does many things well, but I especially admire his design, use of shapes, how he links the darks, brushwork and color.  He sees paintings in things most artists would pass by.

You can see Randall Sexton's paintings locally at the Debra Huse Gallery on Balboa Island.  His complete gallery listings are on his website.  Here are a few paintings from his website.

"Casa di Orsa" by Randall Sexton

"Crawdads" by Randall Sexton

"Puppets Here" by Randall Sexton

"School is Out" by Randall Sexton

"Spirit of 76" by Randall Sexton

June 1st Class

Tomorrow is my last class.  It has been a seven year ride full of learning, great experiences and good friends.  I have no plans at this time for future classes but will keep you informed about what develops next.  I believe my next foray into teaching will be along the lines of an atelier where students make a one year commitment to be part of a painting life for a year.  This will involve a weekly class, but also a studio day, and a monthly formal critique and a monthly long form demo. It will be an opportunity to develop skills to the next level.  Thank you to everyone who has been part of the past seven years!

Class tomorrow will continue in the same vein as the past two weeks.  Bring B&W comps from the photo we chose or a photo of your choice.  I will review them and you will then do several color comps in class.  After lunch I will do a landscape demo.

Monday, May 30, 2011

CAC San Diego Quarterly Paint-out June 4th

The California Art Club San Diego Quarterly Paint-out is Saturday, June 4th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Members and non-members are welcome to paint. Artists should meet at 4441 Park Boulevard in University Heights, San Diego.  Parking is along the street.

The paint-out is followed by a critique at the Athenaeum's San Diego Studio, 4441 Park Boulevard.

San Diego Chapter Co-Chair, Pat Kelly, is hosting the paint-out and critique. Contact her at patmkellystudio@sbcglobal.net.

University Heights is one of San Diego's older neighborhoods, along the north edge of Balboa Park, with a revitalized, historic main street and bungalow neighborhood. This video gives an overview of University Park.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Idyllwild and San Clemente Plein Air

I am officially registered for the Idyllwild and San Clemente Plein Air events.

The Idyllwild Plein Air is Saturday, June 10th.  Artists will paint on location from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The champagne reception and sale, at the Quiet Creek Inn Gallery, is Sunday, June 11th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lily Rock, visible from many vantage points in Idyllwild, is a popular subject matter for the artists. Idyllwild has over a dozen different galleries and many excellent restaurants.

The 10th annual San Clemente Plein Air starts with a Quick Draw on June 18th, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.  Artists will paint in front of the San Clemente Gallery and along Avenida del Mar to the Pier Bowl.  The Quick Draw paintings will be on display for judging and sale at 4:30 p.m.  Any paintings not sold will continue for sale in the gallery until June 25th.

The San Clemente event continues through the week with the Gala awards and sales event on Saturday, June 25th, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Center Auditorium.  Tickets for the Gala are $35 and include catered food and drink - but also first chance to purchase paintings.  The San Clemente event is nationally known, with $13,000 in prizes and attracts professional as well as local artists.  Any painting not sold will be on show in the gallery through August 5th.

See you there!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Good Day

The reception for the North Park Plein Air at the San Diego Art Department on Ray Street was lovely. The gallery looked wonderful. Thank you to Marjorie Taylor, Andrea Rodriguez Chamberlin and Lesley Anderson for planning and executing the event. The judges were Anthony Bernal of the San Diego Art Institute, and Pat Kelly and Jeff Yeoman of the California Art Club.  

I was very pleased to win First Place for my plein air painting, "Ray Street Afternoon" and also the California Art Club Award for Painting Excellence.  

Again, thank you to SDAD, SDAI and CAC.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win?

Good question.  It comes from Crys William's blogpost, "Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight".  I can think of a half a dozen things to apply the question to. Playing to play or playing to win ...

My art.  I let every head game in the book come between myself and the canvas.  Stop thinking about the shows, the judges, the sales and focus only on what I can learn from putting myself on the canvas.

My teaching.  I'm a good teacher, but I've been the best teacher I've ever been since January of this year when I focused only on what the students needed, rather than on what they wanted or what I thought they would pay for.

My students.  Show them again and again that the process will get them where they want to go.  Focusing on the product, the praise and the masterpieces will only get in their way.

A gallery.  Unless it can self-sustain, the plug can be pulled at any time.  Make the hard decisions.  Be a business.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We Made the News ... Kind of!

The North County Times took some publicity shots of the art league gallery and the back of my plaid shirt has had its fifteen minutes of fame.   Helen Bancroft is seated next to me and June Kakowski is in the background.  My students on the other side of the room - your day will come!

Friday, May 13, 2011

What Can I Say?

A brief book on watercolor but full of advice on using values and composition. It just may be most productive 38 cents you ever spend. Everything in it applies to oil paint.  I will be discussing some of it in class.

The Landscape Process

While we will be doing a number of landscape paintings during the next eight weeks, the process for each is the same.  

Do a same ratio comp of the photograph.  Block in the shapes of the large masses using only black and white.  Aim for 3 to 5 main shapes. This comp will give you an overview of what you have to work with.  There are no details or middle values in this comp.

Do a series of black and white comps using the shapes, adding, eliminating, moving, changing the aspect (horizontal versus vertical) and the ratio (1:2, 3:4, 5:6).  Use three values: light, medium and dark.  Again, use no details. This is the design phase and you have total freedom to try any possibility.

Choose the comp you feel is the most successful and, using the same canvas ratio, paint a small color comp of the painting.  Adding color adds the properties of temperature (warm and cool) and chroma (bright and dull). You will find that adding color will affect your design.  Chroma may change the balance.  Colors become cooler and lighter as they recede (aerial perspective).  This may change the balance.  The color comp is an opportunity to try things out.  Maybe you want to change the key or the contrast.  Try several comps.

Not every landscape that you take through the design process may end up as a studio painting.  Take many designs through the black and white comp and color comp stages.  The very best become the basis for a studio landscape painting.

North Park Plein Air Competition

The 3rd Annual Plein Air North Park is in the bottle. The competition spanned several weeks, but all paintings were done on location.  It took a lot of looking and thumbnail sketches to become familiar with the urban environment - a new subject matter for me.  The biggest challenge was the additional drawing time required for perspective and details, quite unlike rolling hills with California oak trees.  It left a very narrow window to add paint before the moving sun changed the light into another painting.  

The first painting is a scene of Ray Street, the heart of the art and cultural district of North Park.  There were lots of cars!  It was early afternoon and the light had a warm, yellow-orange glow.

The second painting is of the corner of University Avanue and 3rd Street.  I was attracted by the shadows under the flat roof of the corner building in contrast to the light on the upper story.  I painted early in the day when the temperature and light were both cool, but the streets were rather deserted. 

The Quick Draw will take place between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 15th, and is part of the day long annual North Park Festival of the Arts.  Several blocks in either direction from the corner of 30th and University Avenue will be blocked to traffic for the entire day.  Galleries, artist booths, music, food and dance will be the entertainment.

The reception for the Plein Air North Park exhibit is Saturday, May 21st, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the San Diego Art Department at 3830 Ray Street in North Park.

Gallery News

Yesterday the Temecula Valley Art League Gallery lost its lease and will be closing by the end of the month.  The art league will continue without a gallery for the time being, while they search for a new location.  It has been a great asset to the art community of Temecula.

I teach at the gallery so, as of the end of the month, I do not have a classroom space.  My next session is scheduled to start on Wednesday, June 1st.  I will have the session but am converting it to a plein air format for the summer, while I regroup.  I will post details on the blog as soon as they are available.

The theme for Session 3 is landscape color and design.  The new format will include painting on location for the early hours of the class, followed by a critique and lecture/lesson period.  

Life is always changing and it is my philosophy to go with it and find something good in the new opportunity.  There is always something to learn!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Landscape Painting Summer Session - Starts June 1st

Oil Painting (Session 3)
Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
6/1, 6/8, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29, 7/6, 7/13 & 7/20
$280 for eight classes

The Summer Session will focus on all aspects of landscape - color in landscape; atmospheric perspective; gathering information on location; creating a painting from black and white comps, through color comps to completed studio painting, and the principals of landscape design. Lectures, demonstrations and critiques are part of the class. The instructor will work with you at your level.

Demos this session will be Wednesday, 6/22 and 7/20, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Demos are free to students enrolled in the class.

To enroll in a class contact Mary through the email posted in the Profile of this blog or through her website.